Jan 11

“Mirror” Immerses Audience in Both Moving Show and Modern Complexities of Womanhood

Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
Frauenliebe und –leben
Music by Robert Schumann
Text by Adelbert von Chamisso

From the Diary of Virginia Woolf
Music by Dominick Argento
Text from the diaries of Virginia Woolf
Directed by Greg Smucker & Patricia-Maria Weinmann

January 6-8, 2017
Longy School of Music of Bard College
Cambridge, MA
Boston Collaborative Opera on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Two portraits of women, written over a century apart. The first is an idealized character looking to not only marry, but be subsumed by her husband’s identity in a happy, storybook life. In German, she sings of having no desire beyond being this man’s wife. She is the heroine of Robert Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben (A Woman’s Love and Life) from 1830, itself based on a series of poems by Adelbert von Chamisso. Two men filter the story of a fictional woman, a touching if pastel view of a girl coming of age. Carley DeFranco breathes life into this creature (also played by Susannah Thornton, Rhaea D’Aliesio, and Julia Cavallaro, depending on one’s tour of the Zabriskie House mansion where the show is staged) with a Disney-esque sweetness. Continue reading

Jan 03

Exploring BOC’s “Mirror: An Immersive Song Cycle Experience”

Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
Music directed by Jean Anderson Collier, Patricia Au, Brendon Shapiro, Chelsea Whitaker
Stage directed by Patricia Weinmann, Greg Smucker

January 6-8, 2017
Edward M. Pickman Concert Hall (directions at bottom of page)
Longy School of Music of Bard College
27 Garden St, Cambridge, MA 02138
BOC on Facebook
Twitter: @BostonOperaCollaborative

Preview by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) I love immersive theater when done well. I thought I’d take a moment to explore MIRROR, a one-weekend song cycle show based on Robert Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben and Dominick Argento’s From the Diary of Virginia Woolf. Continue reading

Dec 15

Perfectly Charming Air Ship “Pirates of Penzance”

Presented by The MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players
Libretto by W.S. Gilbert
Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan
Produced and Directed by Emma Brown
Orchestra Directed by Johnnie Han

December 2-10, 2016
La Sala de Puerto Rico
Cambridge, MA
MITGSP on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) What is happiness? “Steampunk pirate opera” is an excellent answer.

This year, the MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players opted for a pleasing, energetic performance of one of the best operettas of all time. The warmth and enthusiasm on display is heartening. Continue reading

Oct 03

“Carmen” Triumphs, Seduces, and Saddens

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© T Charles Erickson Photography; Carmen (Jennifer Johnson Cano) scrawls “love” on the chest of solider Joseph Yonaitis.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera and San Francisco Opera
Conducted by David Angus
Production by Calixto Bieto
Music by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy

September 23 – October 2, 2016
Boston Opera House
539 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
BLO on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) So, okay, say you know this girl, right? More of a “broad,” maybe—flirts with the boys but won’t take shit from them, never lies to appease some dude’s ego, takes lovers and throws them away with ease. Say she gets in a tough situation—but it’s hard to say what’s tough for her, really, she’s not from a great background. But she’s in this situation, right? And it’s either go to prison or go home at the end of a long work day at the cigarette factory. So she flirts some with the poor, idiot small town officer that has her captive. Naïve guy, sweet enough. Continue reading

Sep 29

“Machine” Delivers a Bumpy Ride


Presented by Arts Emerson
Director, Co-Writer, and Original Idea by Vincent Dubé
A Machine de Cirque Production

September 21 – October 2, 2016
559 Washington St
Boston, MA 02111
Machine de Cirque on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) In the face of the neon polish standard that is Cirque de Soleil in the Canadian acrobat scene, Machine de Cirque’s simplicity is real, grim, and refreshing. Here, the stage is covered in junk—bicycles, drums, stripped down scaffolding, juggling pins. The performers who encounter each item play and experiment, piecing the fragments into an act. It’s stunning. Perhaps a bit dark, too, as a viewer is left to wonder where, exactly, these performers are. Are these homeless young men in a junk yard? Or has the apocalypse come and gone, and they’re left with nothing but pieces in the dust of the cataclysm?  Continue reading

Jul 29

Everyone’s Invited to “The T Party”

Playing through August 13, 2016. Photos by Paul Fox

Playing through August 13, 2016. Photos by Paul Fox

Presented by Company One
Written and Directed by Natsu Onoda Power (with contributions by Jade Sylvan)

July 15 – August 13, 2016
Nancy and Edward Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Company One on Facebook
Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MAThe T Party is colorful potpourri of a show: bright, engaging, and eclectic in design. The skit format gives a wide range of stories based under the LGBTQ (QUILTBAG?) umbrella usually, but not always, focused on gender. Natsu Onoda’s anecdotes come in a wide range, some as feel good as a ‘90’s prom in the style of Lisa Frank that opens the show. Others are  more awkward, like a Craigslist meet up between a cis male identified crossdresser and a trans Filipina escort. The scope is broad and looks to simultaneously create community and intimacy. Without focus on an individual narrative, the tone shifts between joy and sadness wildly, suddenly, as if the two emotions weren’t separate at all, but a continuum of the same experience. Continue reading

Jun 28

Spider Cult’s Tangled Webs of B-Movie Burlesque Pastiche

The Sweethearts via their website www.theslaughterhousesweethearts.com/

The Sweethearts, photo via their website www.theslaughterhousesweethearts.com/

Presented by Jade Sylvan and Fem Bones
Starring the Slaughterhouse Sweethearts
Created by Jade Sylvan (playwright & producer) Fem Bones (creator, director, & choreographer), Catherine Capozzi (composer, guitarist, & band leader)

June 24 at 6:30PM, 10PM
June 26 at 5PM, 8:30PM
The Oberon
Cambridge, MA
Spider Cult: The Musical Facebook Page
Spider Cult: The Musical Soundtrack

By Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Spider Cult: The Musical is deep fried pulp, beer-battered in burlesque and costume blood. This is a certain kind of creepy, specifically a Boston kind, certainly my kind. The choreographed fight scenes and blood shed are as enthusiastic as the stripping. While the plot didn’t need to be anything other than be a skeleton on which one could hang a few themed, stylish burlesque routines, Jade Sylvan and Fem Bones gives us violence, pathos, and insight into human relationships—a many-legged beast of a story. Continue reading

Jun 23

Promo: “Sindependence Day III: Stumbling Up to Boston”

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The Federation of Belligerent Writers Presents Sindependence Day III: Stumbling Up to Boston
Davis Square Theatre in Somerville
Saturday, July 16th
Doors at 9pm, 21+
$13.50 online, $15 at the door.

Promo by Gillian “Demoness Bixen” Daniels

(Somerville, MAThe Federation of Belligerent Writers is taking on Boston! Come party with us Saturday, July 16th, at 9pm, Davis Square Theatre in Somerville for our special event, Sindependence Day!

We’re a bracketed style, masked writing tournament. With one foot in improv and the other in mayhem, the initially luchador wrestling-inspired contest began as a mid-week open mic challenge at Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester.

It’s since grown to a weekend event with hundreds of fans.

The tournament is simple. During each round, two competitors take the stage, one in the red corner, the other in the blue. Three words are chosen at random by hosts Cassie Tai Tortorici as “Basic Bitch Becky,” a Starbucks-swilling, foul-mouthed stage manager, and Ethan White as “El Locutor Fabulso,” the allegedly-impartial verbal sparring partner to Becky, also known as “That Guy.” Continue reading

Jun 09

Cirque du Soleil’s “Kurios” Packed with the Usual Curiosities

Presented by Cirque du Soleil 
Written and directed by Michel Laprise
Director of creation – Chantal Tremblay
Compositions and music direction by Raphaël Beau
Compositions and arrangements by Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard
Acrobatic choreography by Andrea Ziegler, Rob Bollinger, Yaman Okur, Ben Potvin, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Susan Gaudreau, Germain Guillemot, Boris Verkhovsky, Danny Zen

May 26th (premier) – July 10th, 2016
Suffolk Downs
525 McClellan Highway
East Boston, MA 02128
Kurious on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Suffolk Downs, Boston, MAKurios, unlike the other two Cirque du Soleil shows I’ve reviewed for The New England Theatre Geek, is tied to a world of technology and innovation. In 2012, Totem offered meditations on natural history, complete with frogs. Amaluna came to Boston in 2014 and involved a shipwreck on an island wild with magic, a loose adaptation of The Tempest. Kurios, though, is centered on 19th century trains, gramophones, laboratories, and aerial machines. Continue reading

Jun 01

Caravan Palace is Here for All Your Science Fictional Swing Dance Needs

Presented by WORLD MUSIC/CRASHarts
CARAVAN PALACE
Sunday, May 22, 8:00 pm
House of Blues Boston
15 Lansdowne St., Boston
World Music/CRASHarts on Facebook
Caravan Palace on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) Caravan Palace came out strong the other night when it started its engagement at House of Blues with, “Comics.” The song, simultaneously upbeat and chilling, is a rhythmic single off of their latest album, <|°_°|> [Robot Face]. The energy brought the room up to a high that stayed there through the entirety of the show and two encores. Continue reading